25 years ago the Old Beams had a superb Sunday lunch buffet and was known locally also for its range of country wines. As a fairly regular visitor back then I was looking forward to seeing how it had progressed, even though I had mixed memories of having to queue for a table.
I was disappointed. Although it still looks picture-book perfect from outside, the restaurant was now three quarters empty for Sunday lunch; the salads had been replaced by a standard looking carvery (but at twice the price of my local pub's weekday carvery). And on arrival, the service was not very welcoming, even though we had booked a table.
The food was acceptable, but not really up to the prices charged compared to other chain pubs (it's part of a small chain called the Alcatraz Group). I had a steak & ale pudding, which had been baked not steamed. It was very dry, so came with a large schooner of (Bisto-type) gravy; necessary to make it more edible but the two had never met before they appeared together on my plate - and no sign of any ale in the gravy here. The staff happily swapped mash for chips, which were fine, but the accompanying vegetables were mushy and over cooked. A Thai green curry was well-liked, and made less hot than originally threatened by request, and a Cajun chicken salad was acceptable rather than outstanding. No light meals are served on Sundays, forcing you to the higher priced items on the menu, which was very limited in choice for vegetarians.
Drinks choice was less than historically but perfectly OK; the house bitter (no brand!) was drinkable at 3.7%, but I'd have liked to know where it came from.
I fear it may be another 25 years before I return...
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